When the first two all-women club teams took part in last year's OCBC Cycle, the wheels started turning for organisers.
Yesterday, Singapore's largest mass cycling event unveiled an all-women race category for its 12th edition on May 9-10 at Singapore Sports Hub.
Up to five amateur female teams are set to compete in the OCBC Cycle Speedway Women's Championship - the fourth competitive race in addition to the Speedway South-east Asia, Club and Corporate championships.
OCBC Bank's group chief executive officer Samuel Tsien said the rise in interest in cycling among women encouraged organisers to introduce the category.
"OCBC Cycle has evolved to keep up with cyclists' interests and passions," said Tsien, who launched this year's edition at the Sports Hub's OCBC Square yesterday.
"The key to our event's success has always been a result of support not only from the cycling community, but also from the local authorities, our partners, our sponsors and the general public."
Elizabeth Hodges, 34, raced in the Club Championship last year as part of the all-women Fahrenheit Performance Development Team club. She will race in the inaugural event with local women's cycling club Not My Boyfriend's Team.
She said: "We are excited to hear that OCBC Cycle is keen to support women and women's racing. The female riding community is growing and while change is slow, it cannot be doubted that there are more women riding together more often than before."
Anza Cycling fielded the other all-female outfit last year.
Teams of four will compete in the all-women's event and the relay format is the same as the other Speedway races. The teams are split into two pairs, with the first two riding five laps on a 1km track before the second pair completing the remaining five laps.
The top team will win $800, a trophy and winners' jerseys, with the second and third-place teams getting $600 and $400.
Hours Joseph Wong, Amir Syariqul Haekal Amir Razif Shari and Benjamin Ng waited in line to be first to sign up for the 2020 OCBC Cycle.
While the competitive riders will have to wait till May 9, Joseph Wong, Amir Syariqul Haekal Amir Razif Shari and Benjamin Ng have already earned their prizes - for being the first three to sign up this year following a 23-hour wait.
Wong, the first to sign up, took home a Garmin GPS cycling computer and an Aleoca mountain bicycle. Haekal received the same computer and Herschel merchandise.
Ng got a DJI Osmo Action camera and an Aleoca mountain bike.
OCBC CYCLE 2020
MAY 9, SATURDAY
OCBC Cycle Speedway South-east Asia Championship
OCBC Cycle Speedway Women's Championship
OCBC Cycle Speedway Club Championship
OCBC Cycle Speedway Corporate Championship
Mighty Savers Kids and Family Ride
MAY 10, SUNDAY
The Sportive Ride (42km)
The Straits Times Ride (23km)
Online registration starts today at 10am. For more information, go to www.ocbccycle.com
Well-being consultant Ng, 34, said: "We knew what we wanted so, once we decided, we decided to come together and be the first three. Both of them wanted the Garmin (training computer) and I wanted the camera."
Ng, who has attended the OCBC Cycle every year since 2015, became friends with Joseph, 17, when both were queuing to register for the event last year.
"Based on last year, the (first) person came at 2pm so we came slightly earlier than that today," said the ITE College Central student, who recalls being fifth in last year's queue.
"When you've been queuing for 20 hours here, you will remember these things."
The trio will participate in the 42km Sportive Ride on May 10, the same day that the 23km The Straits Times Ride takes place. Close to 6,800 people participated in these community rides last year.
Those who need bicycles for the event can rent an SG Bike for $15, but this is limited to the first 200 participants. Each rental comes with a one-month $15 SG Bike pass.